Cara’s Story

Women’s Stories is a collection of REAL women talking about their journey with MASIC.

8 days before I went into labour, I enjoyed the joys of 3-4 hours a night of what was called latent labour. I was on skype chatting away to my mum and then I peed on the floor – it wasn’t a lot, but more than normal. It happened again, mum said I was leaking, and I called the midwife help line who told me to come straight in.

I called my husband – on his 2nd day of a new job and said come get me quick!

We arrived around 10.30am and I was swept – such a lovely experience – they confirmed my membranes had broken and we went to the ward.

I was monitored and the doctors were concerned that Poppy (my daughter) didn’t nap and was too active, she would find it tough to manage labour. We had around 2-3 hours of monitoring, 5-6 people looking at the results and there was talk of a c section. At the last minute, Poppy went to sleep and it was decided to induce me as I was still less than a cm. We/I had decided to do breathing and avoid drugs in labour as much as possible.

I did 16-18 hours of labour with no meds and breathing, at the end of this I was still only around 2 cm dilated. It was also recommended at this point that I should consider drugs as I was a good distance away from labour and would need the energy to push.

I took all of the drugs in progression, ending with an epidural that was missed/my back bled a lot, followed by a 2nd attempt that worked.

The midwives at this point decided to break my waters – it appeared that the smaller of the 2 waters only had broken at this point and the rest needed to be broken. It was agony, for me, the worst memory of the labour.

Finally, I got to the end point for pushing but there were concerns about a temperature that I had had for a number of hours (in this time I had also been given antibiotics)

I asked the nurses to put the epidural down so I could feel the contractions etc.

I was told I would only be allowed to push for 30 mins before interventions would be required.

I pushed for about 25 mins and then there was a rush – panic and lots of people in the room

Failed ventouse, Poppy had moved on the way down and was not in a favourable position – they were preparing to take me for a c-section and then the ‘star’ doctor became available and came to the room – they did not proceed with the c-section.

The doc told me 2 pushes, him and me – I did it and got her out.

After she was born I got my cuddles for a few mins, but I could also tell there was something wrong – my husband later told me my blood was flowing on the floor towards his feet and the docs were putting full fists of gauze inside me and dropping it on the floor. I could see the consultant frantically sewing, looking concerned – there were still a lot of people in the room.

As my tea and toast was brought, I started to feel shaky, out of control and I asked for help. By the time I had a doctor/nurse around me I couldn’t control the shaking – I could see and understand what was going on but couldn’t speak or control my body. I was wheeled out and watched as my husband stood at the end of the corridor with our newly (25 mins old) daughter in his arms. I genuinely thought this might be the last time I saw them.

I was wheeled into another room where they checked me for a stroke, a heart attack and tried to take blood – I still had no control and was frightened – again there were many people around me.

The doc that tried to take blood hit something in my arm – it was a shock of pain and I was able to say STOP.

He tried again and I swore – it was the only time that I had had some control/voice.

I don’t remember anything else until I woke again in the ward – Liam and Poppy were beside me – I was weak and felt terrible.

A doc came around and told me I had rigor shakes as a result of septic shock and had also had blood loss which required blood transfusions (ongoing).

In the night, I woke in agony, I asked for pain relief and was told only paracetamol, after hours of pain I was given tramadol. The midwife also removed my catheter.

The next day (10th) during rounds, the midwives asked how my peeing was going – I said, I hadn’t and they were horrified that my catheter had been removed without consultation or instruction about going to the bathroom (I still couldn’t walk at this point). They put another catheter in (agony) and drained 1100ml.

They also took a look at my cannula which had a large mass around it, like the size of a golf ball under the skin – a consultant was called, who was angry and who had to remove the cannula, freeze my hand and re-connect another one so that the blood and meds I had been given could be pushed through – this was witnessed by my parents and husband – it was not pleasant or pretty.

They docs tried to get me up and standing – I stood but couldn’t walk.

The next day, in the evening, my husband took me to a disabled shower and helped me wash and change.

The next day I was moved to a private room on the maternity ward. I was there a further 4 days where my hand/arm was looked at and I was referred to a specialist as nerve damage was expected/assumed.

The rest of the time in hospital was focused on breast feeding and the fact that I was struggling to produce.

When I eventually got home I remained on a multitude of drugs for about 3 weeks.

I was put on specialist home visits who identified that my peeing wasn’t normal – once a day, sometimes twice but when I did go it was often a litre or close to it. I was referred to a specialist who had a catheter put in for 2 weeks, then another 2 as my bladder had been bruised and was damaged by the birth. For me this was one of the lowest points.

After this, I was starting to feel better and then I became more aware of the fact that I couldn’t hold my poo either. Every time I went outside, and sometimes in the house I did a poo – almost always in my pants.

I told the doctor this the next time and she referred me to a rectal physio.

The rectal physio had a look and suggested some exercises, she also said that my tear was not a 2nd degree (as recorded in my notes), she believed it to be a 3rd or 4th and was going to refer me.

I got an appointment and they did some tests that revealed there to be no muscle or nerves or shape at all to my back passage – I was referred to a consultant and was told I would be discussed at the colorectal team meeting in the next 2 weeks.

Eventually I was referred to the lead consultant, he did a check and confirmed a 4th degree tear. His colleague also looked at my vaginal situation and it was recommended that I undergo an overlapping sphincteroplasty (which is rare) plus a full vaginal reconstruction and perineal reconstruction. At the same time, they would put a colostomy in (at this stage I had not real understanding of what this would actually look like/mean) I agreed and then covid happened.

My operation date was originally 31st March 2020, it was postponed until 2nd Nov. I went back to work full time on 16th August with a full occupational health referral in place. I gave up my teaching classes and had clothing in every building of my work as well as access to the nurses station with a shower and a security guard who would take my car if I had an accident on the way – which happened a lot, almost every day, if not multiple times.

After I had my op, I was told 16 weeks or more not to do more than walk – no lifting or carrying, including my 16 month old daughter, which was horrendous. I stuck to it which caused issues of bonding with myself and my daughter and friction between me and my husband.

I went back to work in the Feb and was told over time that I should expect that my colostomy may never be reversed and that I may never be able to have any more children.

The next few months were focused on some sense of normality – or creating it and learning to live with a colostomy – my nurses were great and I saw them regularly. My colostomy wasn’t always easy but over time I learned to manage it.

My nurse referred me to a psychologist as it appeared throughout that I was coping ‘too well’ I dealt with the whole thing with humour and this it appeared was the big concern. I did 8 sessions and received a clean mental bill of health with an option to restart support if I felt it necessary.

All in I was incontinent for 16 months and messed myself publicly for most of that time. I refused not to go to classes and do what a new mum on maternity does and so I managed myself by being open and honest despite the discomfort – humour really was and has been my friend and let’s be honest – we were all parents of newborns – poo was our language, and so I felt safe or at least in the right place to be able to reference it. My husband dealt really well with a poop bag slapping against him when we were trying to be intimate. I work with teenagers and they are disgusting but also surprisingly supportive and so being in school and my colostomy farting randomly fitted right in.

I had a consultant review finally (had not seen a doctor since I got out of my operation) in May and I was told they could reverse the colostomy and that I was healing well due to my inaction and doing what I was told.

In June, I received a call that scheduled my colostomy reversal due to a cancellation and then I was in. I recovered over the summer and went back to work full time in Aug 2021.

Now I am working on getting my body back to a new version of normal. I have a personal trainer who specialises in post op and post labour who is helping me get my new body back into shape and I am suing the NHS trust for their admitted bad decisions and mistakes which I got written evidence of post a complaint to them directly.

 

Looking for support?

There is support available if you need it, don’t suffer in silence and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice.

MASIC can help you over come the physical and emotional trauma you may have experienced during and after child birth. We can support you and guide you to helpful resources, all you need to do is get in touch.

Not sure where to start?

Please call the MASIC 24h freephone Birth Injury Support Helpline 0808 1640 8333

The stats speak for themselves.
More women are affected and need support…

85%

of women with severe birth injury said it impacted on their relationship with their child

78%

were affected by traumatic memories of the birth

52%

stated they were embarrassed by the symptoms of their injury

49%

of women affected said they doubted their ability to mother

45%

suffered postnatal depression as a result of their injury

24%

of women affected regretted having a child because of the injuries sustained